Juan Cesare, a descendant of the Borgia's of Vienna, thinks he may have a murder streak in him acquired from his long-dead relatives, is is love with Florence Ballau, but her father lodges ...
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Juan Cesare, a descendant of the Borgia's of Vienna, thinks he may have a murder streak in him acquired from his long-dead relatives, is is love with Florence Ballau, but her father lodges a strong protest. Papa Ballau is later found dead with a Florentine dagger of the Borgia type stuck firmly in him. Juan is all wrought up and tortured by thoughts he may have been the killer. But there is also a disfigured housekeeper on the premises who may or may not have had a motive. Written by
Les Adams <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Two cast members in studio records/casting call lists did not appear or were not identifiable in the movie. These were (with their character names): William Jeffrey (Editor) and Walter Bonn (Bartender). See more »
A good mystery but some of the dialogue is out there
In fact some of the dialogue is so out there it's actually an asset versus a distraction for this little B mystery film from Warner Brothers. The stars are all good performers, with Margaret Lindsay being a 30's post-code favorite actress of mine. But some of that dialogue - and just some of it - seems like it was produced by title card writers from 1910. I just don't know how Donald Woods and Margaret Lindsay could keep a straight face given some of their campy lines.
The story starts with three visitors to the famous abandoned castle of the Borgias in Italy. One is producer Victor Ballau (Henry O'Neill), another is psychiatrist Gerard Lytton (C. Aubrey Smith), and a third is a troubled young man (Donald Woods) who is the last of the Borgias - his namesake is Cesare Borgia to whom he bears a remarkable likeness. The troubled young man, Juan Cesare, attempts suicide to prevent himself from becoming a murderer when he feels the Borgia urge to kill rise up in him. Fortunately his attempt is thwarted by Dr. Lytton. Instead, Juan goes to Vienna where he recovers from his obsessions with his heritage and writes a play for Ballau that is about the Borgias. Juan cannot find the perfect Lucrezia Borgia for his play until he meets Ballau's step-daughter Florence (Margaret Lindsay). The long and short of it is that Victor Ballau winds up dead in his study one night, stabbed to death with one of the Florentine daggers he possesses that once belonged to the Borgias. There are many suspects, and the mystery has many unexpected twists and turns and for that matter, many improbabilities.
One of the goofiest and best things about this film besides its campy dialogue is Robert Barrat's performance as Police Inspector Von Brinkner who is in charge of the murder investigation. Von Brinkner's not a threatening kind of fellow at all, and he's given to all kinds of appetite, usually found to be chewing on brie and the finest food he can scrounge when he isn't chewing scenery, or talking to his girlfriend on the phone. However he turns out to be surprisingly competent and generous. Watch and find out what I mean.
One thing you'll probably note is the precode ending a full year after the production code went into effect. Again, you'll have to watch to find out what I mean, but I just don't know how the censors let this ending stand as it did.
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